The conventional wisdom among the pundits and chattering class is that the political upheaval we're seeing is either about Democrats or it's about incumbents. But if you look at the patterns of who's doing well and who's not, a different theme emerges: politicians who put corporate interests above populist ones are in deep trouble.
For a long time, the mainstream media has equated corporatism with centrism - as though prioritizing the livelihoods of thousands of Gulf fishermen above BP's marginal profits is somehow extreme. As though protecting BP (or Goldman Sachs or Aetna) from the consequences of their actions while everyone else pays for them is somehow a "moderate" stance.
But the real question is a fundamental one: who do our elected officials work for?
Second, [the oil spill] feeds into the anxiety that there has been an unhappy marriage between corporations and government officials, which has had the effect of corrupting both.
We've been doing a reasonably good job at calling out elected officials of both parties when they favor corporate interests over the people they're supposed to represent. See, e.g., Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, or pretty much any Republican who serves in the House or the Senate.
And we have some real champions, especially in the House. Here's Rep. Alan Grayson taking the Citigroup CEO to the woodshed:
And here's Rep. Tom Perriello sending a warning to the health insurance companies as he moves his bill through the House to repeal the antitrust exemption which has been allowing collusion and price fixing:
So here's what we need: when someone tells you this is a bad year to be a Democrat, or that it's a bad year to be an incumbent, tell them no: it's a bad year to be a corporate sell-out.
I've been working with Congress for just over a year now, and it's become abundantly clear that the single biggest problem we face is corporate capture of our government. We're going to have to fight - and fight hard - so that
government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.(Want to help keep our most progressive, populist members in Congress? Consider a contribution to the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC.)